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Aug 07, 2015
How To Get Your Company's Annual Returns Done In Good Time And Sleep Soundly.
There are basically three returns your company has to make yearly; 2 financial and 1 merely literary.
The financial ones are made to HMRC and Companies House. These are your company's financial accounts; profit and loss, loans and dividends, etc. The 2 financial returns are similar, in that they cover the same thing; the money your company has made, lost or retained.
The other is made to Companies House alone and is a statement about the status of your company; who it's director's are, what its registered office is, etc. Your annual return to Companies House is different from your company’s annual accounts and tax return, and usually won’t be done at the same time.
- The key websites are: https://online.hmrc.gov.uk/ and https://ewf.companieshouse.gov.uk/
You set up an accounts on these sites and you or your accountant can do the essential returns which keep you from getting fines. You get fined if you don't submit returns on time. (This assumes you have not informed HMRC or Companies House of a reasonable excuse. "My accountant is a bit stupid" is not a reasonable excuse. Fire, flood or theft, are.)
Set up your accounts on these sites now, if you have not done so already. What often happens is that people think that because, from the date of formation of their company, they have a year + 9 months before they have a deadline, they have plenty of time.
Well, my friend, time flies. Here's what can happen:
- You get your reminder letter that your returns are due, you rush to set up an account online and then you realise they have to post you an authentication code, which could take days to arrive.
- You call round to your accountant in a panic, with a shoebox of receipts under your arm, only to find he's gone on holiday.
- You download the HMRC accounts filing PDF and find that, even though you think you've entered your accounts correctly, it's throwing up an error.
- You don't realise that you have to have your tax paid by the deadline, not just have the return submitted.
And the clock is ticking ...
This is a horrible feeling and one which can be easily avoided.
Get your logins to HMRC and Companies House set up soon after your company is formed. Get an accountant. Keep records in an Excel spreadsheet of your Income and Expenditure, to make it easier for him. The less work he has to do, the less you have to pay him. Hopefully!
Make notes of when your returns are due and remind him 3 months in advance. This will give you time to deal with any screw-ups. Get an accountant unless you have accounting experience and your company's finances are piggy-bank simple.
The Company's House website has a pretty good overview:
At the end of its financial year, your limited company must prepare full (‘statutory’) annual accounts.
You then use this information to:
- Send accounts to Companies House
- Pay Corporation Tax - or tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that your limited company doesn’t owe any
- Send a Company Tax Return to HMRC
File annual accounts with Companies House
9 months after your company’s financial year ends
Pay Corporation Tax
9 months and 1 day after your company’s financial year ends
File a Company Tax Return
12 months after your company’s financial year ends